If you are a history buff, or just a hoarder, then you might be a fan of the Antiques Road Show on Public Television. While I’m sure that many of you are familiar with the program, the premise is as follows: the show brings together a variety of experts to a single location where locals can have anything they own appraised, from attic-junk to family heirlooms. Every once in awhile you see a person who made a five-dollar purchase at a garge sale years before with an item that appraises at tens-of-thousands of dollars. Of course, virtually every item that is brought to the Road Show has personal value to the owner; the question is whether that value translates to monetary value for others.
Healthcare Value Network
I spent a couple of days last week in Appleton, Wisconsin with 17 other healthcare HR leaders to learn and share how HR systems and processes can drive real change in a Lean organization. The only things we knew going into the session is that our organizations were part of the Healthcare Value Network, and through some pre-planning we surmised that we were all struggling with similar HR, organization development, and leadership challenges. Our brief time together confirmed these assumptions.
I left the land of the Green Bay Packers with a bag of cheese curds, and a number of key takeaways. However, there is one simple concept – although not a new concept – that has stuck with me more than others: The development of HR systems and processes in a Lean organization occurs in the Gemba, and not in an HR conference room. In non-Lean language, we need to develop our HR approaches with our clinical (operations) leaders and employees. In the end, our work must be redesigned to support what is really needed on the rapidly changing front lines of healthcare.
Get Out of the HR Attic
Our traditional approach to HR administration is that we have done the bulk of our process work and planning behind closed doors, or in the attic. We are the experts in regulatory and compliance matters, organization development constructs, and we have the unrivaled talent to create reams of forms. When we were feeling more “strategic,” we might have included, or sought real input from others outside of the HR kingdom.
When our new systems were defined, and the ink was dry on the new forms, we took the process/system on the business version of the Antiques Road Show. What we often discovered was that the heirloom-quality HR process that we had masterfully created was appraised by operational leaders (experts) to be of little or no value to them, or the work that they were doing. It was easy to become that person on camera at the end of the Antiques Road Show who whined about how unappreciated our process was – at least it was highly valued by us, and we are going to hang onto it.
Strategic HR: Solving Other People’s Real Problems
Strategic HR today, particularly in a Lean sense, means that we are solving our customers’ problems through the ongoing, real-time design of better HR processes and systems. By better I mean: they are intentionally designed to add value to clinical (operational) people and processes, as their needs evolve; they are not mired in meeting the strictest interpretations of government regulations; they are not derailed by an unreasonable aversion to business risk; and, they accomplish what is most needed by the people in the Gemba, and ultimately our customers.
It seems that the only way to accomplish the strategic work of HR in a Lean organization is to design it with the people in the Gemba. So while the “what” is settled in my mind, and the minds of many other Lean healthcare HR leaders, the “how” is an entirely different challenge.
What have you done to engage your operations leaders in redesigning HR systems to meet their needs?
[Photo Credit: anankkml via freedigitalphoto.net]